Just Ask!

Lisa Starr
Spa client surveys and salon client surveys are a great way to learn more

So many decisions made in a spa business are for the benefit of, or will affect, your customers. Sometimes it’s hard to decide what the best approach should be; the good news is that when you’re unsure of a direction, the answers can be found, just ask!

Whether it’s adding a treatment or product line, changing your décor, or just general business decisions, your existing customers can be the best source of information for you. Too often, I encounter owners trying to guess about what their guests might like, when you can really just ask them. Your best customers would like to be involved in decisions (some of them too much so!) but can often be a great source of inspiration and guidance. After all, it’s their money that you’re after, and you might as well incorporate their feedback to the degree that you are comfortable.

But how to ask? An anecdotal conversation here and there can be helpful, but you’d probably prefer some black and white data. Happily, there are many options to take advantage of. First of all, it’s easy to post a question on your Facebook page, and creating it as a contest will be even more likely to garner attention and participation. It’s also easy to add a poll to your spa page to encourage voting on a few options.

A good spa management system should offer a survey option for post-service follow-up, allowing you to create your own using various question types, such as star ratings, drop-down boxes or radio buttons. The survey can be attached to a “thank you” email that is automatically sent post-service, or just sent to a select group in your database. If the system compiles results for you, it makes this tool really useful in simplifying the process. You can also create surveys using a third-party program such as Survey Monkey. Either way, the survey links can also be posted on your Facebook page, encouraging viral participation.

Focus groups are another way to get valuable feedback; in this case you would invite a group of customers to participate in person. Just be focused on inviting thoughtful, business-minded clientele, and be careful not to invite too many! If you fear the discussion turning into a critique of your business, you can hire a marketing company to run the group for you. The personalities included are key here; no bossy know-it-alls, but not quiet types either. Remember their feedback will not be anonymous so you’ll want to include customers who are comfortable with group sharing.

With any survey, it is important that you are very direct and specific in your questioning. Some survey best practices, listed below, will yield the best results. Surveys can be complicated and once you’ve gone to the trouble, you’ll want to be able to learn something from the effort, rather than having collected a lot of useless information.

Some survey best practices would include:
•    When you are forming the questions, give careful thought to all the different ways the question could be answered, and frame it in a way that delivers the most accurate results.  For instance, if you ask guests, ”Should we be open on Sundays,” they’ll say yes, of course. But if you ask, “How often would you have a spa service on a Sunday,” you’ll get better and more specific information.
•    Don’t make questions too long or confusing; short direct questions will deliver more accurate responses.
•    If you are posting on social media or letting customers answer anonymously, a few questions should include some demographic data; male/female, age range, frequency, etc. that may be important for you as you analyze the results.
•    Make the questions more broad if it is going to a wide audience; more specific if, for example, it is going to customers who just checked out and you want to know if they were asked about home care, or whether they would like to pre-book their next service.
•    Share the results with your staff, if you learn anything that is reflective of their behaviors. This practice helps them to learn to not take customer opinions personally, and to see how their actions are interpreted.
•    Don’t expect everyone to answer the survey; direct mail considers a 1% response rate a good one.  Since this is a more targeted effort, you should be happy with a 10-15% response rate.

So, there's no need to wonder how customers would react to business developments; if appropriate, just ask!


About the Author

Lisa Starr

Lisa Starr brings over 30 years of industry-specific experience as a consultant, educator and writer to Booker through GOtalk. Lisa also works for Wynne Business, a leading spa consulting and education company. Among other things, Lisa’s expertise lies in business operations and finances, sales and marketing, inventory management, human resource development, and business process improvement. She is a well-known speaker within the trade show circuit and is a frequent contributor to industry

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